P:O.V. No.1 - Cat's Cradle: film data and synopsis

Cat's Cradle

Liz Hughes
(Australia, 1991), 12 minutes, b/w

Principal production credits and cast

Director & Writer
Production Designers
Sound Editing
Sound Design & Music

Woman in Cinema
Liz Hughes
Nicholas Heydon and Andrew Davis
Anny Mokotow and Sarah Watt
Melissa Juhanson and Liz Hughes
Piers Douglas
Paul Schutze

Helen Rollinson
Ian Nash
Imogen Gough
Paul Bajada and Ryan Giddins
Andrea Swifte

Awards won for CAT'S CRADLE include:

1992 Golden Crocodile for Best Fiction Film, FIFREC (Int. Student Film Festival), France
Golden Heron for Best Film, Filmvideo92, Italy
Best Film (General Category), Dendy Awards, Sydney Film Festival
1993 Best Foreign Film, International Film & Video Festival for Young People, Austria
Grand Prize, International Contest of Amateur Films, Barcelona
Golden Falcon for Best Film, International Amateur Film Festival of Kelibia, Tunisia
Best Short Film, Fantasporto International Fantasy Film Festival, Portugal
1994 Eisenstein Prize for Best Film (co-winner), Wilhelmshaven Maritime Film Festival, Germany
1995 Clap d'or, 9th Clap 89 Short Film Festival, France
Best Narrative Film, 33rd Ann Arbor Film Festival, USA

Filmography (as director)

The Treatment
Simon of the Seaweed
(co-directed with Nick Heydon)
Jam, Cat's Cradle

Liz Hughes was also cinematographer for nine films, including Life at the Top, Wireless Nights and The Collectors, and has won several awards for her cinematography.

Director's Synopsis

Synopsis I

Dad is laid out on the dining room table. He is dead and his family cannot afford to bury him. In a surreal funeral procession, they set out with their father's corpse to find a final resting place for him.

Synopsis 2

Cat's Cradle is an extreme scenario about a family who cannot afford to bury their father. Deadpan acting combined with the absurdity of the family's dilemma make for an amusing interpretation of a bleak situation. Dad's rigor mortised corpse is carted throughout the city by Mum and children in search of a burial place. Their journey takes them through nineteenth century factories and eight lane freeways to eventually find solace in a deserted cinema. The film is gritty black and while, has no dialogue and appears like a transported silent movie set in a thirties depression amongst nineties technology.

An Outline of CAT'S CRADLE

P:O.V. No.1
  1. A corpse - the father of a poor family - is laid out on the table in a dilapidated, one-room apartment. The mother, daughter and two sons silently sit at the table, constituting an eerie still-life. The youngest son is unable to eat the porridge in his bowl, while the daughter plays "Cat's Cradle" with a piece of string. Soon, uneaten porridge is noisily scraped from bowls into a pot.

  2. Presumably at dawn, the mother, daughter and two sons are all huddled in a single bed. With the rest of the family still asleep, the mother arises and contemplates the corpse - which has a tin mug in one hand. Having reached a decision, she begins dressing him in his Sunday best. Satisfied with his appearance, she then places a trophy in the hand that previously held a mug, closing his fingers around its handle.

  3. Into a sun-drenched meadow, the mother, daughter and elder son carry the dead father, while the younger son trails behind carrying a tiny suitcase and dragging a spade, To the sound of birdsong, the father is set down on the ground, his arms crossed over his chest, and with the trophy in one hand. The spade strikes solid rock wherever they attempt to dig a grave. After several tries, they give up and exit from the meadow, with the spade noisily scraping along the ground.

  4. At a factory with blazing furnaces, workers leisurely talking or looking in newspapers don't even notice the family as it walks toward a furnace, carrying the corpse. They try several times to insert the corpse, feet first, into the opening, which turns out to be too small. With the corpse's shoes still smoking from the flames, they give up on this attempt and exit from the factory.

  5. The family carries the dead father past a creek, which is bordered by rock.

  6. The family carries the dead father, trophy still in hand, along a deserted highway, with open fields on both sides, the mother at the corpse's feet, the daughter and elder son at his shoulders, and the younger son trailing behind, carrying the tiny suitcase. The wind makes an eerie sound.

  7. The family, seen from the highway through the girders of an overpass, is apparently making its way toward a city.

  8. The family carries the corpse through a busy city square in strong sunlight, the people standing there casting long shadows upon the sidewalk.

  9. The family carries the corpse into a darkened and nearly empty movie theater, to the sound of a repetitive musical theme. They set the dead father in a seat, the mother positioning his head so that he appears to be watching the screen. She smoothes out his hair one last time and exits along with the rest of the family, the daughter now carrying the younger soon. A woman, holding a bag of popcorn, sits down next to the corpse, whose head soon flops over on to her shoulder. Startled and on guard at first, she soon leans her head onto his, looking at the screen - as he also appears to be doing - as the music continues.